Improving patient access to primary care
The provincial A GP for Me initiative was created and funded by the Government of BC and Doctors of BC through the GPSC in 2013 to:
- create more capacity in the primary care system;
- help more people who want a family doctor to find one; and
- support the relationship between patients and family doctors (also called ‘attachment’, including better support for vulnerable patients.
Starting in 2014,more than 3,000 family doctors worked in their offices to attach and improve support for vulnerable patients through A GP for Me practice-level attachment fees. At the same time, 33 Divisions of Family Practice began work on 156 A GP for Me projects in BC communities. Local projects aimed to recruit and retain physicians, enhance team-based care, create efficiencies in physician practices, develop systems to attach patients to GPs, and deliver public education.
Results to date
In just two years, with results reported to March 31, 2016, A GP for Me was showing significant, positive benefits for patients across BC:
- 416 new physicians came to BC communities to take on new patients, take over from other GPs, provide temporary locum relief, or assume other roles.
- 178,000 people who did not have a family doctor were able to get a GP.
- More than 116,000 complex and high need patients were attached to GPs. (Some of those were included in the 178,000 above.)
- 130,000 patients were transferred from a retiring or relocating physician to a new family physician.
- 101 allied health professionals such as nurses, social workers, and mental health professionals began working with GPs in team-based care models to support patients, which also enabled GPs to maximize time for patients.
- More flexible care, like telephone appointments and telehealth were introduced to broaden access for hard-to-reach patients.
The full impacts of A GP for Me require a longer-term context to be fully realized, as changes and improvements take effect over time.
Although funding for the implementation of these A GP for Me projects ended in March 31, 2016, the work continues. There is still more to be done to ensure that more British Columbians have access to continuous, quality primary care.
That’s why family doctors, divisions, their local partners and health authorities are building on the tremendous achievements of A GP for Me, and taking their work to the next level.
Foundation for the future
The A GP for Me Initiative has established a foundation for the next phase of health system redesign in BC. In addition to positively impacting patients’ lives, it has:
- provided important new insights into primary care challenges experienced in local communities and among patient groups, which is critical for future planning;
- demonstrated widespread physician leadership and brought together hundreds of new partnerships not seen before to tackle the challenges in primary care; and
- invested in lasting improvements and spawned new models of innovations needed to move the system forward.
As a result of A GP for Me, local, regional and provincial partners are now able to take important steps forward to build an integrated system of care and a model of family practice defined by attributes of the BC patient medical home. Ultimately, it is all leading to stronger, more accessible, primary care for British Columbians.